Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Lead in urban residential soils: first steps toward a predictive model.
Schwarz, Kirsten
Co-Authors: Schwarz, K., S.T.A. Pickett, M.L. Cadenasso, K.C. Weathers, R.V. Pouyat, and I.D. Yesilonis
Abstract: The ban on both leaded gasoline and lead-based paint has significantly decreased the number of lead- poisoned children in the United States. However, a lesser known potential health threat is lead that remains in urban residential soils from both sources. Of interest to both environmental scientists and the public health community is a spatial model of lead distribution that targets urban residential areas. A first step to achieving this goal is mapping the spatial distribution of lead in urban residential soil. Fifty-two residential properties in Baltimore City have been surveyed using a USEPA approved x-ray fluorescence (XRF) multi- element spectrum analyzer which allows for efficient in-field soil sampling for lead concentration. Residential properties for soil sampling were selected based on 1) distance to a major road, 2) housing age, and 3) housing material. Of the properties sampled, 54% had at least one lead measurement that exceeded the USEPA reportable limit of 400 ppm. In general, soil samples taken near buildings had higher levels of lead compared to other areas sampled in the yard. This pattern was shown for both brick and wood frame homes. Housing age is also an important predictor of soil lead levels: no homes built after the ban on lead-based paint and leaded gasoline exhibited XRF soil lead readings that exceeded the USEPA reportable limit. The survey results will be used to construct a spatial model that characterizes hotspots of lead in urban residential soils.